Bison 1617 vs Phantoms (Game 1)

The Sherfield School Basingstoke Bison suffered a loss at Peterborough 6 days earlier so welcomed the Phantoms to Basingstoke Ice with the intention of reversing the result.

Basingstoke Bison 3 Peterborough Phantoms 4 (after penalty shots)

Vanya Antonov made a welcome return to the Herd line up who took to the ice at full strength. After a minute’s silence respectfully observed in memory of Helen Beere referee Paul Brookes moved to centre ice to start the game with Justin Lalonde and Andrew Cook on the lines.

Joe Baird tried to intercept Ales Padelek entering the zone but fell short of his mission as Padelek steamed on but the chance was cleared. It wasn’t long though before Phantoms were on the board when Susters finished. Weldon found Stepanek who tried his luck but Hiadlovsky came out and made a good save. With the defence watching the shooter and feeder Susters was left alone to the right of the net and tapped in the loose puck.

At 3.04 a good pass from Dan Lackey through heavy traffic found Shaun Thompson who despite taking his time couldn’t outwait Janis Auzins and the Phantoms goaltender got all of the puck.

Tomas Karpov held the puck in the zone to give Captain Aaron Connolly the chance but the Auzins shoulder dealt with that and deflected it away. With 5.23 played the whistle blew to end a good period of play for the Bison, and in particular Antonov. The young forward made his way to the net and after his original shot was saved he got enough of his own rebound to have a genuine second attempt but Auzins was in good form.

With 7 minutes approaching Stepanek laid an awkward hit on Tomas Karpov and Alan Lack stepped in immediately to deal with the situation. Stepanek who made the hit escaped un-penalised with both Lack and James White receiving cross checking and coincidental roughing minors meaning play continued at 5 on 5 from the re-start.

Bison kept challenging Auzins but he was seeing the puck like a beach ball and save followed save. Tempers started to fray and Phantoms got a powerplay opportunity when Declan Balmer picked up a boarding penalty at 8.24

With less than a minute of the powerplay gone a confident Auzins came out to the blue line to play the puck but could only feed it to Petr Polodna. Polodna took his time and lobbed the retreating goalie but Padelek was alert to the danger and batted away the shot giving his goalie time to return.

The intensity kept upping with the game developing niggles and physicality but with 4.14 left in the opening period, after a spell of play around the Bison net Will Weldon managed a stroke of luck when his pass from behind the net struck Hiadlovksy on the back and rebounded into the goal for 0-2.

Balmer picked up his second penalty of the night when Owen Griffiths took a tumble at 17.39. On the powerplay James Archer drove a shot through traffic and with 1.03 left to play Tom Norton rung the ironwork from the blue line.

The first period buzzer sounded as Phantoms held a 0-2 lead.

img_1960After a 20 minute resurface the players returned to the ice only to be sent off again by the referee who called for the ice to be re-done to remove the water left. By the time the opening puck dropped for the second period after two ice-cuts it had been 41 minutes since the end of 1st period buzzer had sounded.

Bison looked much better and much more intense in the second period. Auzins was still in good form and denied Long finishing a play from Antonov. The Herd continued to pressure around the Phantoms goal but the net appeared impenetrable.

Auzins came out to play a puck at 24.08 and didn’t appreciate Alan Lack breathing down his neck. With the goalie so far out his crease he’s fair game for a bump but over-reacted by shoving Lack and picking up a roughing penalty, served by James Archer, at 24.08

Bison played a neat powerplay, chances came from the blue line but Auzins was up to the saves. As the Bison went for a line change Dan Davies was about to step off when the puck came to him. As he turned to play the puck his replacement hadn’t seen this and jumped on too. Davies saw this and immediately left the ice but not quick enough for the referee who awarded a too many men call at 26.06

2 seconds of four on four play started the next stretch of play before Phantoms returned to full strength and went to the powerplay. Stepanek barrelled down on Hiadlovksy but shot wide then Antonov got stood up entering the zone but drop fed Karpov who’s top corner shot was just a little too high. Balmer then drove in a shot and chased his own rebound but Auzins denied both.

Bison were on the powerplay when Wallis took down Long at 30.29 and it was with the man advantage that Bison got their account open. Long and Balmer, playing on defence for the powerplay passed the puck side to side before Balmer fed it in to Rene Jarolin at the hashmarks who finished perfectly at 31.37.

Soon after Stepanek made it to the net and with Hiadlovsky down it fell to Shaun Thompson to weather the storm but he picked up a slashing call in the process putting Phantoms back on the powerplay.

It was 22 seconds into the powerplay that Phantoms scored their third goal, this one coming against the run of play. Good passing saw the puck to Stepanek who’s shot went in via the post for 1-3 at 33.10

Rene Jarolin and Aaron Connolly nearly drew it back to 2-3 with a Phantoms pass straight to #35 but his shot and Connolly’s tip still only found the Auzins glove.

The end of second period buzzer sounded and Bison could be pleased with one of the best periods of hockey they’d played in the season but would feel a little upset that Phantoms had snuck a goal in a period where Bison had been dominant.

img_1963After the usual length interval the players returned to the ice for period 3. Bison knew they needed a good start. They dominated the opening exchanges of the third period and almost inevitably the second goal game soon.

At 41.26 good set up work from Balmer and Karpov saw a fantastic finish from Antonov who picked top corner and scored top corner leaving Auzins no time to react to the shot.

The game stood balanced on a knife edge. The first period had been about the Phantoms who had smothered the Bison but the second period saw the Stampede break free and assert dominance over the game. The start to the third had been just what the home team needed.

Ciaran Long stood up Marc Levers at the blue line with relative ease then soon after it was powerplay time when Robert Ferrara picked up a blatant hold for his work impeding Tomas Karpov.

Auzins denied another chance when Long’s shot avoided a tip and ended up in the goalie glove. Balmer won a race to chase a clearance against Weldon and after a cheeky “face-wash” Weldon went down and stayed down, eventually making his own way off the ice.

Thompson and Rounding combined to test Auzins but he hugged the post firm. Premature celebration rung around the arena as a shot from Reynolds bulged the netting but it had hit the back of the net, the puck fell to Long but he couldn’t get it across the line.

At 49.43 there was a pause in the game as Auzins went down after making a save. The Phantoms treatment staff came out and attended to him but he continued the game.

The equalising goal continued to look impending as Kurt Reynolds took a solo run and then Polodna fed in a shot for Lackey to tip but the latter missed the connection.

The goal did come with 6.12 to play when Antonov got the puck to Tomas Karpov who blasted the puck in on net. Auzins had an attempt at the save but Karpov’s shot had too much on it and the goal light was shining bright with the game equalised.

With the score tied Phantoms tried to build some pressure of their own. Hiadlovsky was sharp to deny shot after shot as Stepanek and Robson tried their chances. A collision when Baird skated into Karpov gave Phantoms a 2 on 1 but Hiadlovsky watched the chance unfold and calmly made the save.

Phantoms continued to feel the pressure and iced the puck with 56.34 played bringing the face off back to their own defensive zone. Bison pressured hard around the net, a scramble ensuing but no penalty call despite pleas from the Bison bench. Karpov worked the puck back to Stuart Mogg but his shot went wide and with 2.36 to play Slava Koulikov called the Phantoms time out.

As the final 2 minutes started Stepanek muscled his way into the zone but Hiadlovsky was left little to worry about as he sent his shot high over the target. With overtime looming a big hit against the side boards from Baird was adjudged outside the rules and saw him pick up a 2+10 for checking from behind.

The penalty meant 3 on 3 OT would start 4 on 3 for 1.38 with the Phantoms having the man advantage when the 60 minute buzzer sounded.

With 3 on 3 overtime a penalty puts the strength 4 on 3 in favour of the non offending team. At the expiry of the penalty the penalised player returns and play continues 4 on 4 until the next stoppage in play when the teams return to 3 on 3.

With sudden death overtime about to start Adam Long took to the ice in place of Janis Auzins giving the Phantoms the chance to ice an outskating import.

Bison nullified the remainder of the Baird penalty then the action began. Stepanek fired his first chance of the extra period safely wide, flashing across the goal, Balmer fired in on goal but Jarolin tipped agonisingly wide, then when play stopped both teams had to give up a player and drop to 3 on 3.

With 3 on 3 Phantoms swapped back to Auzins and with 7 seconds left in OT Dan Davies was awarded a hooking penalty but the man advantage was nullified and the game went to penalties.

Ales Padelek took the first penalty, he advanced to the net, rounding Hiadlovsky and drawing him out, cutting across the front of the net and slotting home behind him. Petr Polodna took the first shot for the Bison, he swung left and right and out waited Auzins before firing top corner for 1-1.

Darius Pliskauskas was next to shoot for the Phantoms and as he advanced in Hiadlovsky watched and waited and closed the door. Ciaran Long stepped forward for the Bison knowing his shot could give them the advantage but Auzins kept his pad down leaving Long nowhere to bundle the puck into and it stayed at 1-1 after 2 rounds of shots.

Stepanek was third to shoot for the Phantoms and tried to shove the puck in near side but Hiadlovsky kept his leg down and the puck out. The shooter immediately questioned the referee for the no goal but as the goaltender got up the puck was clearly on the wrong side of the line and the no goal stood. Stepanek immediately got into Hiadlovsky’s face pushing and shoving him and Ciaran Long steamed in to protect his goaltender. Both players were penalised and left the ice.

Antonov stepped up to take the third shot for the Bison knowing his scoring would seal the win but Auzins shut the pads and sudden death would be needed to decide the result.

Levers took the first sudden death shot and just lifted his effort over Hiadlovsky’s right pad and into the net. Focus then swung to Aaron Connolly who moved in but saw Auzins deny him with a pad save and Phantoms got the extra point.

For 40 minutes it had been the best Bison performance on home ice this season to date. The opening 20 minutes the Phantoms had been allowed to play their own game and it had rewarded them with an 0-2 lead at the end of the first period.

From the return after possibly the longest hockey resurface ever to have taken place mid-game Bison dominated the game. Phantoms sat back and soaked up the pressure they were put under. Janis Auzins had an awesome game in net, denying long range and point blank chances keeping his team in the game.

Phantoms didn’t seem to have answers to the never relenting Bison in the 2nd and 3rd period. Koulikov took a brave decision to ice a cold back up in the overtime period to try and get a break with an out skating import but was forced to swap back to his starter as the out skaters couldn’t reward the faith he’d shown in them.

Having gone 2 goals down in the first period it had been a complete turnaround from the Herd. It would have been easy to continue in the same form and lose the game but in the end it was the team that deserved to win that only got the single point.

For 45 out of 65 minutes it was one way traffic. Bison showed signs of clicking.

I said before that the loss of Joe Greener was massive. It changed the entire dynamic of the team. Greener could score, he could mix it up, he could defend. He was a rare player that had the complete game. It’ll take more than one player to fill that void and the team are still learning and becoming accustomed to their new post Greener roles.

In defence the loss of Vantroba is showing. Barton is new to the team and the country and is taking time to learn the EPL. Consequently Hiadlovsky is seeing a lot more quality rubber than he did last year. He proved last year he’s a quality goaltender despite missing a great deal of the season injured both before and after the injury he shown through as a quality goaltender.

The roster changes over the summer were minimal but they were key. It is taking time to bed in but I think the Phantoms game showed that there is an exciting team on the bench and a team capable of mixing it up with anyone in the league.

Played 5, won 1 isn’t the start anyone wanted to the league defence but it’s not lost yet. The team is coming together, Shep is bonding his team into his vision for 16/17 and against the Phantoms the game was exciting and unlucky.